August Hotel headlined student music festival Wombstock before its songs had been released, but junior Adam Cieply still knew all the lyrics and sang them until his throat hurt.
Senior Dean Sinclair is the drummer of the Chicago-based pop group, which released its first EP last week. August Hotel has played at Hillsdale five times: the No Date Dance (sponsored by A Few Good Men), Battle of the Bands, Welcome Party in 2015, Broad
Street Market in 2016, and Wombstock in 2017.
Cieply has seen them four times and said that he “went crazy” each time.
The band released its EP, “Charms,” on Sept. 22 on all major music buying and sharing websites. The EP (extended play) has two songs, “12AM” and “Michigan Again,” which the band released as singles earlier this year. These songs came about after the band’s reorganization over the past couple of years when Craig Schwartz began playing keyboard for the band and when bassist Cale Singleton handed over the mic to lead singer Joe Padilla.
“We never sat down and asked what the EP was about. We just sat down and wrote pop songs. If it works out to where we can tell a story, that’s great,” said Sinclair. “We are not philosophers on this record, but if you have a broken heart, we give you something to tap your foot along to and be a little upset with.”
“Can I Be in Love with You” and “Crystallized” are new tracks on the EP that the band has been working on for over a year. The latter was Cieply’s favorite song on the album.
“‘Crystallized’ is really catchy. I think it tells a conventional story, the usual high school love story, but they reminisce on the story from a college viewpoint,” Cieply said. “They wonder what memories they will be able to keep. They realize that they will try to keep it forever, but they can’t.”
Guitarist Ryan Lammers, who produced the EP, said he felt pressure to record the music properly in a studio at Northwestern University after the band tried and failed to record in a basement in 2015.
“It’s kind of surreal honestly,” Lammers said. “We have been sitting on these songs for a long time. It is strange to have it out where everyone who is not us can listen to it.”
This was not the first time Sinclair and Lammers found themselves in a studio together. A band they formed in middle school named “Poseidon” won the chance to record a full album featuring the “The Implosion of the Plan.” The music video of the song still haunts the back alleys of YouTube.
Though Lammers said that they felt like “hot shots” going into the studio to record with Poseidon, the experience was different this time around.
“Having the freedom that we did and the access to the studio, there was a bit of that awe,” he said. “But then we started to complain about being stuck in the studio, but then we would walk out and be really grateful for it.”
Sinclair said that he finds it funny going from small shows in Chicago with small crowds to a friendly, excited Hillsdale crowd.
“If we don’t play ‘Valentine’ here, people will start screaming at us,” he said.
That song, which came out in October 2014, was the first song to get people talking about August Hotel, though Sinclair insists that if it was anything, the acclaim was small.
“One night, shortly after the song came out, Olds was having a party and ‘Africa’ by Toto was playing. [Senior] Amalia Hansen thought I was leaving so she changed the song to ‘Valentine.’ Some people knew the song but most people did not. People started booing. [Seniors] Mehgan Cain and Callie Ring tried to get people hyped. I don’t know if the song ran to the end,” Sinclair said.
The EP marks a new stage in the band’s development.
“Even though we have played together since high school, we need to rebrand. Those tracks had a different singer and a different keyboard player,” Sinclair said.
The band decided to take “Valentine” and “What About Now?” off of streaming sites for a fresh start.
August Hotel does not know what to expect with the release of “Charms.”
“Right now,” Lammers said, “we are just trying to get it in as many ears as possible.”